Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival is encouraging children and families to celebrate World Book Day virtually this year with a series of free-to-view online events.

A global celebration of books and reading, World Book Day takes place tomorrow (Thursday, March 4) with a mission to change lives through books and shared reading.

As a charity committed to encouraging the impact of books and reading on education and wellbeing, Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival is putting on three online events as part of its spring series, shared online on March 4 and available until March 19.

Events include an interactive session with multi-award-winning author and illustrator, creator of  Odd Dog Out Rob Biddulph.

Rob will be doing a draw-along based on one of his bestselling picture books, designed for children to follow along at home and create their own characters. This session is suitable for school Years 2 to 5.

Sita Brahmachari, the acclaimed author, playwright and writer in residence at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, will be sharing her World Book Day Book, The River Whale, in a session recommended for school Years 5, 6 and 7.

The festival will also welcome the author and illustrator behind a host of beautifully designed children's books  Where Bear?,  Sophy Henn.

In a lively session, she’ll be sharing Pizazz, her new story about a reluctant superhero in a session for school Years 2 to 5, and includes the chance to draw along with her.

Annie Ashworth, festival artistic director, said: “As a charity, the festival takes authors and illustrators into schools to talk to children and young people about their work and to inspire a love of words and passion for reading.

“By staging these events digitally and bringing these special World Book Day events straight into homes and classrooms, we’re encouraging young people to get involved and celebrate books and reading, and have some fun!”

The children’s events are part of the festival’s wider spring events schedule, which runs from March 13 and includes one of Britain’s leading nature writers Stephen Moss;  Guardian  rugby columnist  Robert Kitson on the success of the Exeter Chiefs; and acclaimed historian Professor Margaret Macmillan talking to Visiting War Studies Fellow at King’s College London  Mike Martin.

Also included is the multi-award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction and short stories Dame Marina Warner; Scottish GP and author Gavin Francis talking about the wider impact of the pandemic; and author of the best-selling Prisoners of Geography Tim Marshall, on his follow-up book.

The line-up concludes with Lucy Jago on her highly-anticipated debut novel  A Net for Small Fishes based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I; author of The Dig and A Very British Scandal John Preston sharing the stories behind his new book  Fall about newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell; and Sam Bourne - the pseudonym of award-winning journalist Jonathan Freedland - talking about his latest, fast-paced conspiracy thriller with writer Joan Smith.

Tickets for the adult spring events are on sale now from www.budlitfest.org.uk and cost £8 per event. Tickets that include a discounted signed book are also available.

Books will be supplied by Winstone’s Books in Sidmouth and event sponsors include Jurassic Kitchens.

Ticket sales from the spring weekend are helping to fund the free World Book Day sessions for children and future education outreach activities across East Devon.